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Book TV After Words

John Jenkins Education. (2012) 'The Partisan The Life of William Rehnquist.'

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William Rehnquist 19, Us 6, United States 5, Brown 5, Washington 4, New York 4, Douglas 4, Texas 3, Brosnahan 3, U.s. 3, America 3, Phoenix 3, John Jenkins 3, Richard Nixon 3, Richard Kleindienst 3, John Roberts 3, Bill Douglas 2, Wisconsin 2, Naacp 2, Jackson 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV After Words    John Jenkins  Education.  (2012) 'The  
   Partisan The Life of William Rehnquist.'  

    January 1, 2013
    11:00 - 12:00am EST  

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hillary said you have to be the one that goes and tells chelsea. >> ladies and john amen -- caught my >> you don't always find many newspaper editors of any area embracing investigative reporting. the point be seen over the years is not just economics. it's a discomfort investigative reporting causes in a newsroom because his troubled son.
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that more than economics. if you ruffled the feathers is someone powerful, that gets you the running and to complain to the publisher of the stories about those things happening. we were fortunate through the 70s and almost all our careers to work for people who are strong and upright in that area and just let the chips fall where they may, where the work way you. >> coming up, booktv presents "after words," an hour-long program where we invite guest host of interview authors. this economical journalist, john jenkins and his book, "the partisan: the life of william rehnquist."
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and i., the publisher of cq press details the early career and a 33 year supreme court tenure at the former chief justice. he talks the supreme court reporter and a biographer for justice o'connor and scalia, joan biskupic you. >> welcome, john jenkins. we're here to talk about your new book, "the partisan: the life of william rehnquist." i'm going to start with one general question, just to give our viewers a sense of who the chief justice is and why william rehnquist was important. there've only been 17 sheets, correct? >> guest: that's correct. >> host: what does the chief justice of the united states doing an import into volume rent is and then his chronology. >> guest: the chief has two roles in the judicial system. he serves the chief amount among amount equal is on he finds the opinion in the majority. he leads a discussion that
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conference. so he is an important role to play among the nine justices and he's the key guide hair. particularly when he's in the majority. but the other thing that rehnquist was an achieved is really ahead of the entire administrative office of the u.s. courts. runs the entire court system and that's a low part of administrative responsibility at the other justices don't have. but that's a chief justice does. >> let's go back to the beginning. born october 1st around this time of the 1924. his father was a paper sales and another was a homemaker, but she was the dominant force in the household, right? talk a little bit about mrs. rehnquist in a little bit about how she got him to change his middle name, which was what got change the course of his life. >> guest: well, she was very superstitious in terms of the
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middle name. they named him william donald rehnquist when he was born on october 1st in 1924. his mother though believed she was really a very, very fascinating woman. she spoke five languages in addition to english. don't ask me what those 54. they're on a footnote in the book. but she was very learned. very proud of her education at the university of wisconsin. both father and mother were syscon centers. they haven't traveled far at all and they were very, very middle-class folks in the depression and the father is a paper salesman had gotten through high school. he actually lost the family house. he was the breadwinner and in 1939, his house was sold at auction in shorewood, wisconsin and this little d.c. suburb of milwaukee. there was sold for the debt on,
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which was $7000. so the family had been through some very dire straits. they were also very conservative they were america firsters, which meant they didn't want america to be in world war ii. they were against the new deal and franklin roosevelt. they were a very, very conservative household. whether conservatives and came on the parents part, who knows except it was, when i stood in a research, pretty commonly found in that particular suburb at that time. the folks i interviewed told me. when rehnquist was going into the army, just to jump up a little bit on the last name, when he was going into the army, his mother who is superstitious of rehnquist also is very superstitious. and so, his mother believed that if he had a last name, a middle name they started with age and
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had five letters in it, that that would be good but for him. a numerologist had told her that and so, when he was going into the army, he researches genealogy and found he had a grandmother and his mother site whose last name is hubs. so he changed his name himself and he told harry blackmun, he seatmate on the court, wrote a note one day and said he changed in high school, but his recollection was probably incorrect because he changed it when he signed up for the united states army in early 1943, when he enlisted in the army. at that point, they asked him what his middle name was and he said hubs. and that was his name. he was always william h. rehnquist after that. the next understand because he told the story to reporters at the end of his life but the difference being that made a difference and i remember one of
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my colleagues quit, he would've been just a justice of the peace without it. one of the more crucial moves in his life, after he leaves milwaukee and goes to stanford law school is becoming a clerk for supreme court court justice robert jackson. tell us how that came about because i want to lead and to which you have with some of the conservatives among blacks than whites. >> guest: great. jackson was i think seeing my family than i say great justice. he had been the prosecutor at the nuremberg war charles. he actually taken time off from the court and gone to nuremberg and been the chief prosecutor and then came back to the court. so rehnquist graduates from the stanford law school early at the end of 1952. he was actually in the class
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that would've graduated a semester later, the rehnquist finished his work. he was so smart he got out early. so it was clear when i was researching through his papers and lucky not the diaries that he had actually, that were on were on deposit with his papers, which were fascinating. he had six notebooks that were filled with his reminiscences, desires and early comments and memoirs. one of the things that was clear was that he really saw himself destined for some important job. he actually on the court probably are certainly somewhere in government because he had asked himself as a student, he actually written, what now, honorable w. h. rehnquist with it? s. a law school student, as an early vasko student.
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what now? said that's really fascinating because it really said that he had this feeling of almost destiny to be on the court when he was very, very young. but it was this confluence of events, were jackson plays a role that allowed him to do that. he had a professor who had taken an interest in him and so the professor was friends with robert h. jackson and jackson was going to be coming out to stanford. you have to remember it was hard to get out there from washington. >> were in the early. >> it was rare for someone from stanford. stanford had a law school can rehnquist was whip smart, but it was hard for someone who wasn't in the ivy league to be a clerk, court was very much an honor and he was hard. the justices in those days, jackson had been working with
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one clerk. so maybe nine people or 10, 11 people you get these clerkships. not many. >> and i remember it right that justice jackson came up for the groundbreaking? what brought them out there? >> guest: two things. what brought them not least the bohemian growth. so there was this bohemian grove in a place called mantra brio, california. i've actually worked on another story, so i know that plays well. it's a man's club, all men. two dozen men getting together at a summer camp and they do it every year as there was a bohemian club in san francisco at posted this confab corporate decision makers, government luminaries, diplomats, very important people. the equivalent today of some of the big events that have been
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announced then and when you see folks in short sleeves rubbing elbows with each other. so jackson actually was coming out in august of that year, 1952, to do that. so his professors at first he asked jackson, there is a groundbreaking at the law school. and then the professor surprised rehnquist a scene i'm going to arrange for you to meet him. the interesting thing is that rehnquist did meet him and met with jackson and jackson just kind of didn't even really interview him. he -- rehnquist had a swedish ancestry, which you type about a lot. it was a talking point of his always. so jackson got off on this tangent of talking about his swedish clients he had appeared and told rehnquist in stories that rehnquist really didn't get a chance to talk about himself very much.
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he didn't think he done a good job. he said it was nice to meet you and that was that. so rehnquist doesn't hear anything now for a couple of weeks. and so, he starts getting worried and he writes a letter to jackson and since i'm in my last semester of law school. i really have to kind of figure out what i want to do. he says i've got a number of interviews and offers in california. it doesn't look like it strew, but he says this. rehnquist later said of the century. he confessed to jackson that wasn't true. so rehnquist says i've got these offers in any tunic a decision. can you help me out here? it was really smart and jackson comes back and he says, you know, i think we can use a second man. i think we can use a second man
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and maybe by march of next year the workload will be really hard for one man. in those days, they were the clerks. so rehnquist and petitions, he says that could come earlier. i think to be there in january. so jackson's has come out in january and basically that was it. rehnquist, right and, right time. the timing was perfect and rehnquist writes this little studebaker, which he tells about in his memoir about the supreme court. he drives this little studebaker to washington with no heater and gets caught in a blizzard, but he guess they are and shows up at the court and starts working. and he is in ought of the supreme court in the corinthian columns and the screenplays he's now in. >> right. that's a really big week for him. obviously he had proven himself academically, very smart, got
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into school as he applied to. but here's a crucial move for justice jackson. but it also leads to something that haunts him the rest of his career and that has to do this now most of the brown v. board of education case. why don't you tell us what his role was and why turn out to be controversial. >> he wrote a number of memos in those memos stumbled out on stage in a very red sequins over many years later and they came back to haunt him. so he gets there and percolating up through the courts already going back to 1950 private cases of the naacp legal and education defense fund that thurgood marshall is actually bringing and he's building that, sort of brick by brick, block by block. thurgood marshall not yet of course a justice of the supreme court. he's making the case that plessy
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versus ferguson, which defined the acceptability of separate but equal. they're making a case of the naacp that this cannot remain the law of the land. and it's pretty clear that the case that is scoring to become a very, very important one for the court is actually the year that rehnquist is barry's brown v. board of education. and so, which churns out a fact to be the case that strikes the doctrine down. very, very important in a unanimous decision of the supreme court. so rehnquist, part of the rule of the clearcase to offer her his advice and opinions to his boss about these cases. so rehnquist writes a memo about brown versus board of education and he basically says that
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plessy should stand. rehnquist offers this memo, gives it to jackson. jackson doesn't -- i'm sure jackson read the memo, but he puts it away and of course jackson is one of the nine justices unanimously vote to strike down plessy versus ferguson and this important case, which finally decided in 1954. who's actually reheard comer vera could again be hereafter. >> host: the significance that it gets rid of separate but equal. >> guest: that rehnquist was against the holding in that case. rehnquist believed as a supreme court clerk that that was the wrong outcome and argued passionate way. if think back when i was looking at his early years at stanford, it's clear this is not some
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e-mail. this is not something new to him. this is really in his firmament, he believes that plessy is right and should be affirmed as he says in the memo. there are some other cases come in many cases at this point coming along that the court is having to decide whether to ask that in there actually is another case that the voting rights case, but a discrimination case and that is called terry versus atoms. so it also comes at the same year. the issue is whether or not this club in texas, which is called the texas jaybird club is a democratic social club that if you are not a member of the club, you cannot vote in the primary and only white people are allowed to be in the texas chamber club. the issue in that case they should dictate this petition and hear the case?
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and rehnquist writes to memos about terry versus atoms, basically saying the right of free association, again going way back to the conservatism of his youth and probably his parents and such. he writes in to more memos to douglas, to jackson, asserting very, very strongly that the rate of free association is such that the supreme court should let this case go, leave it alone and also espousing some views that are basic late, he says about time we understand that white people and black people don't like each other how much does move on. and so, those memos, all of which are now in the archives of jackson, but those archives were closed. so it's only when they start leaking out, first won in 1971,
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brown versus board of education, terry versus atoms that was i actually reveal for the first time an article in "the new york times." >> when you say 1971, disney's nominated to be an associate justice. let me ask you about the terry versus atoms met us. he said that puts him squarely on record as an ardent segregationist. you chalk up a lot of it to his area, but many of the other clerks at the supreme court during this time were of the same era. many justices, all of the justices were even from a previous era. he seems to have taken isuzu but a bit further than maybe even his parents held. what is your idea of the race other than just the time and wisconsin was conservative, but didn't stand out. >> guest: you're absolutely much about this
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and struggled over this really in terms of i want to bircher eight -- am i to portray his site very, very accurately and fairly, pulling no punches, but at the same time, not landing them if they're not served. so i thought about it a lot. the issue for rehnquist was he believes so passionately and individual freedom ended his day, i don't know whether the phrase libertarian was one that was bandied about that much, but that's where he was coming from and i think his views, which i say in the book were clearly recessed and segregationist, even bystanders at the time, considering standards of the time come asserts a more extreme. >> we are going to leave the program going back back to president obama making a statement about the fiscal cliff
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though. >> essential premise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class americans. tonight, we've done that. thanks to the votes of democrats and republicans in congress, i will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2% of americans, while preventing a middle-class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into a recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across america. i want to thank all the leaders of the house and senate, in particular, i want to thank the work that was done by an extraordinary vice president, joe biden, as well as leader harry reid, speaker boehner, nancy pelosi and mitch mcconnell. everybody worked very hard and i appreciate it and show, once again, thank you for your great work. under this law, more than 90% of
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americans and 90% of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up. millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them to college. companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research they do, investors make an clean energy jobs that they create. 2 million americans out of work, but out there looking, pounding payment every day for continue to receive unemployment benefits as long as they are actively looking for a job. but i think we all recognize this law is just one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden the opportunity for everybody. the fact is the deficit is still too high and we're still investing too little into things that we need for the economy to grow as fast as it should. and that's why speaker boehner and i provisionally try to
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negotiate a larger agreement that would put this country on a path to paying down its debt, while also putting americans back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges and providing investments in areas like education and job training. unfortunately, there just wasn't enough support or time for that kind of large agreement in a lame-duck session of congress. and that failure comes at a cost us the messy nature of the process over the past several weeks has made is this more certain and consumers is confident. but we are continuing to chip away at this problem, step-by-step. last year i signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. tonight's agreement further reduces the deficit by raising $620 billion in revenue from wealthiest households in america and there will be more deficit reduction as congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts we've now delay delayed for two months. i want to make his point is that
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demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, i am very open to compromise. i agree with democrats and republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care makes medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. i believe we've got to find ways to reform the program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. and i believe that there's further unnecessary spending and government that we can eliminate. but we can't simply cut our way to prosperity. cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so the wealthiest corporations and individuals can't take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most americans. and we can't keep coming things that basic research in new technology and still expect to succeed in the 21st century economy. so we're going to have to
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continue to move forward in deficit reduction, but we have to do it in a balanced way, making sure we are growing, even as we get a handle on their spending. now, one last point i want to make. while it will negotiate over many things, i will not have another debate with this congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they vardy racked up through the last of the past. that may repeat. we can't not pay bills that we vardy incurred. if congress refuses to give the united states government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic, far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. people will remember back in 2011, the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. consumer confidence plunged,
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business investment plunged, growth dropped. we can't go down that path again. today's agreement enshrined the principle unto god that we remaining places on the long as i am president. the deficit needs to be reduced in a way that's balanced. everyone pays their fair share. everyone does their part. that's how our economy works best. that's how we grow. the sum total of budget agreements we've reached so far proves that there is a path forward, that it is possible if we focus not on our politics, but on what is right for the country and the one thing i think hopefully in the new year will focus on the scene if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little less brinksmanship, not scare the heck out of folks quite as much. we can come together as democrats and republicans to cut spending and raise revenue in the way that reduces our
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deficit, protects our middle-class, provides letters into the middle-class for everybody who's willing to work hard. we can find a way to afford investments we need to grow and compete. we can settle this debate, or at the very least, not allowed it to be so all-consuming all the time that it stops the spending and a host of other challenges that we face, creating jobs, boosting incomes, fixing immigration system, protecting planet from harmful effects of climate change, boosting domestic energy production, protecting our kids from the horrors of gun violence. it's not just possible to do these things, it's an obligation to ourselves and future generations and i look forward to working with every single member of congress to meet this obligation in the new year and i hope that everybody now gets at least a day off i guess, or a few days off so that people can
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refresh themselves because we have a lot of work to do in 2013. thanks, everybody. happy new year. [inaudible conversations] >> the president responding to house passage of the fiscal cliff bill will prevent taxes going up for people who earn less than $400,000 a year. the legislation hosted automatic spending cuts for two months. the house passed the fiscal cliff bill a short time ago. the vote 257 to 167. to get your reaction, get your callers on c-span after the house goes out. we're taking you back now to booktv programming. >> he had been the fbi agent caught dissing the next in 1860s during the election when william rehnquist was interfering with voters and brosnahan said look, he was a
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very well-known and respected lawyer incentive is go and brosnahan says they are, i was called. i positively identify him as the man. who's discouraging black voters. he was giving them -- rehnquist is giving them a literacy test, which was not illegal, but he was really pushing the line to the point where the police and the fbi had to be called to restore order. rehnquist simply said that was not me. so poster james brosnahan puts a lot on the line >> guest: and really kind of gets hammered because at the end he's not left with anything that really he can grab onto to come back at rehnquist. rehnquist simply says they can't explain it. it's just not me. i was at that very cagey, very
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typical when i met with conquest 10 years later, very, very typical of the way he carried a question that he just didn't want to answer it must have been. >> host: fascinating. whenever james brosnahan, whose cellular david cisco would come before the supreme court, william rehnquist would recuse himself from the case. so it stayed that way. they finished one other thing and then we'll take a break. he referred to his time in phoenix and then he comes to washington d.c. with the justice department. let us know how we came here after richard nixon was like did in 68. >> guest: rehnquist went back to phoenix and decides that he jumps into everything he could possibly join to become a better and business getting attorney in these extreme is successful, by the way. very little known are the amount
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of property he was able to amass and wealth by the standards of that time in phoenix. he was very successful. he meets the prot├ęges and supporters of barry goldwater, whose really shaking things up is a precursor to ronald reagan in goldwater in the early 60s. so he hitches up with these guys and one of the people he meets is richard kleindienst and kleindienst is a key guy for goldwater and is also caught the attention of the nixon administration and john mitchell, who was nixon's best friend, campaign manager and attorney general. the kleindienst is invited to come on as the number two man and says i need rehnquist with me. he's really smart. mitchell opposes at first because he said we don't need more than one cowboy. when cowboy is enough. when cowboy from arizona is
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enough. the kleindienst persuades him to bring rehnquist to the pier hotel in new york, with their campaign headquarters is in transition headquarters and rehnquist comes in and leaves the private beta with mitchell and it's got the job. >> host: his second big rate. robert jackson, richard kleindienst will pick up after this. >> guest: thank you. >> host: welcome back, john jenkins. we'll pick up on the chronology of william rehnquist 16 chief justice of the united states. first come a couple questions about you and how you decided to write this book.
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i know you had 10 apiece and william rehnquist for "the new york times" magazine in 1985, but here we are in 2012. i know it didn't take you that long. tell us about why you decided to do it at this point. >> guest: and 1885 i was assigned a story by the times and then met with rehnquist ways in interviews in 1884, kind of interesting. i had written him a veteran introduced myself. he's not giving giving any interviews that all that we weren't sure whether he would accept this or not, but he sent his letter back right away, which uses very punk police about that. he said why don't you come in will get to know each other better and then i'll decide whether i want to cooperate or not. i thought i would go in with my tape recorder in my questions and be fully prepared and i'll let him throw me out if he
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doesn't want to have this conversation and in fact we had two very, very good meetings. time goes by. during my research for the times, but editor at the time was encouraging me, it dake for the origins of conservatism. what is that? there's got to be more. this guy is wired from birth as an arch conservatives. descartes for that, john. so i didn't i think i did a credible job with the information available. after his death in the availability of papers -- he'd given his papers to stanford university to the hoover institution at stanford, considered a very, very conservative, and it is, institution and if a significant restrictions on papers he probably wouldn't have been able to do, had he given in to the library of congress.
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for years after his death, become available. that's probably two dozen eight. and so, i neo today needed to to jump on that and be the one to go through those papers and hopefully find something that would help me tell the story of this man in the papers were just a fast trove. the case documents are still largely locked up because one of the considerations he has is no papers can be available on any justice who participated is still alive and of course john paul stevens comes on the court as an appointee of joe ford and is still alive. the cases from the first few years were. i was more interested in his personal papers, letters to his
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children, letters to his family, and diaries, the books he made us about and all that fascinating and thousand upon thousands of files that are at the hoover institution. >> host: that's great. several justices within the circuit up in their papers. so kept every note william rehnquist wrote to him. >> guest: harry blackmun kept every note and the entirety eyes he put up so in a restrictions. given the papers are at washington university, the curators of those papers are technically not supposed to be open, but the curators of the papers that very, very helpful. so i was very, very pleased and i have to thank them for those documents because that showed a side of william rehnquist has stood the papers the blackmun
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papers of douglas showed a side of rehnquist that i thought was very important to reveal. >> lewis powell and william rehnquist both come on the supreme court in january 1972. tell us a little bit about the role william rehnquist played in his own selection when it comes to washington, where he left out in our first segment. he comes with richard kleindienst, an assistant attorney general at department of justice and starts having a hand in selection for supreme court nominees and lo and behold and fall of 1971, he becomes one. >> guest: rehnquist is the person at the justice department put in charge by and large abetting the nixon administration nominees to the court and his record on this is actually very mixed i have to say. >> host: in terms of betting
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successfully? >> guest: some of the things he let slip through unfortunately that good or bad he has taken the fall for the responsibility for. so i say mentioned, richard nixon had come on in to the presidency with a commitment to appoint conservative southerners to the core. i was one of his campaign promises, hard for us to even think about this today, but nixon was a complex guy in his own right. so rehnquist are in the department of justice is now supposed to be helping them find these guys in the very first two vacancies, first to nominees they go up to the court archon enhanced word and harold carswell, both of whom failed to get -- to be confirmed. rehnquist take the fall for that
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because he invited them both and professed unqualified and then i got hammered during the hearings. so by the time another vacancy comes up, cynics and his giddiness amazing confluence of four vacancies in his first term, pretty amazing. they're also coming up at the same time. too early in his presidency and two more with hugo black and john marlin. within a couple weeks of each other, both resigned and then dies almost immediately in harlan a few later. so nixon was looking to replace black, but he certainly -- he was hoping he could keep harlan because he really liked harlin, but he was also inclined and have a lot of issues. so by this time, nixon attorney general mitchell have decided to take this thing over themselves. they can't run the risk of it got another important job for rehnquist at this point, with these two vacancies, wishes he
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is supposed to be running a committee to declassify documents and nixon and his diabolical authors, and rehnquist i'm sure doesn't know this, but with the white house tapes came out later, turns the reason he was rehnquist to do this is because he believes that he can get these documents declassified, he can use them to bang the image of the kennedy family, particularly bob kennedy and share k. and even ted kennedy, who he sees as a potential rival in the coming election. so the declassification of documents, nixon once rehnquist to handle so he can the documents out. when it turns that rehnquist isn't going fast enough, nixon and his other folks the later discredited watergate decide they're going to make up some documents from within any way. that's a whole other thing. so what happens is rehnquist is
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busy doing not and meanwhile, mitchell and nixon are trying to find two people to announce because nixon wants to move fast. >> host: on the fall of 1971. >> guest: he wants to do it fast before the 72 elections and he knows that time is his enemy. getting the jump on someone fast after vacancies cannot does what he needs to do. someone has the brilliant idea, actually fred moore and the white house sells the idea. you're correct. there was a fred moore. has this brilliant idea that rehnquist is the guide. he's smart and he's really going to be a guy that can be on the court for 30 years or more, which of course is what happened and they plant the seed with nixon. mitchell you can listen to the tape and you can hear mitchell
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and nixon is kind of rolling around in his mind and at first he doesn't really like the idea, but he warms to it because he's got a deadline. you must make a speech. 10 hours before the speech, he decides rehnquist is his name along with lewis powell. >> guest: is fascinating. he mentioned the tapes which any one of our viewers can get from the archives. but in your to make a copy and listen to it. your richard nixon, graduate of duke law school get jealous when he saw the smart rehnquist was at stanford. i remember the president said something to the effect commending u.s. and is hard at stanford as it was said duke because john mitchell the attorney general is talking about how smart william rehnquist was first in his class and also having clerked for justice jackson. so is on the court. he gets on the court and this is what you write about him. under rehnquist or the
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constitution, state officials could execute, arrest people, stop women from having abortions, but they couldn't get the slightest preference to african-american students seeking admission to state university. he voted against affirmative action every time the court considered it. that's a timely reminder since the course about to take it out. tell us about the law. >> guest: rehnquist legacy is that he made it a very acceptable. he paved the way for ideological conservatives and also liberals, by the way, to be acceptable as members of the court. and so i think his real legacy is not so much that he was the author of great opinions like brown and the boring era for event row in that era of berger,
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but because they really are, to my mind anyway, the opinions of rehnquist that are particularly memorable. but i asked rehnquist, what are your memorable opinions? he said, you know, i don't have any memorable opinions. nothing comes to mind as being particularly memorable and i think that's an honest answer in an accurate answer. >> host: that was in 1885. he could've said that in 2005 also. >> guest: i agree. he would've said it into thousand five just as much. his legacy as he came onto the court with an agenda and it was a partisan agenda. i called about the person. as the title of "the new york times" story, "the partisan." i wrote the story, but i don't get to title it. i thought that was very, very accurate. remember asking him coming to consider yourself a partisan? he said yes, i am a partisan.
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he was unabashedly partisan, so his legacy i think is that he made it acceptable to be a partisan on the court. if you look at the public opinion polls that trace with the public thinks that the court, i think that during prior chief justice is, the sense that the public was that the court is the one institution that is above before i get the rough-and-tumble of the white house and congress has always been that way, but the court is the one institution about the freight and that is clearly changed. you can trace the sense of what the feels about the petition of the court and they see it now is politicized. >> host: let me ask you how we got to it and more about the legacy after we talk about some of his work on the court.
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he was very consistent in those areas that she cited term of racial remedies, in terms of abortion rights, no. you suggest that it wasn't just his idea of the constitution because you talk about the political influence. was there something larger and his idea of society, or visit the kind of basic conservatives and you trace back to shore with? was a collection of factors rather than the constitution? >> guest: i think rehnquist had a worldview that was sad as a very, very young man. i had the opportunity when she was still alive in the 1980s to speak to his english teacher, charlotte blogger, who told me the thing she remembered, and this is really a since starting my research, and saint tony about this guy. someone said one of his teachers is still alive. sherwood high school. her comment was coming in now,
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this is a young man who is very, very sure of himself and conservative even non, very traditional in his beliefs. so yes, i think that when william rehnquist confronted a case, he did not look at the prior precedent and say, let's see what my prior colleagues thought about this. let's see what past courtside and i'll be guided by god. he was guided very much, as he put it, was on the doorstep at this point and by his own personal views of it. so i think he was a very traditional conservative person who brought that to his view of the case. keep in mind, he had read the road to serfdom in the army.
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basically he quit college, quit college after one semester, join the army and started reading these great books. he viewed that as the single most important book he ever read from other to serfdom, which is the defining libertarian philosophy. >> is such a contrast, the super smart, self taught in some ways intense reader who could be first in whatever class he goes to. he can knock off work at three today, just very quick. i found him able to add deep memories are facts, also trivia and important things. geography, anything you name it. but yet, he had these sort of trivial pursuit that you make a big deal out of it. your village chapter on this board that her. i know that in the archives they found letters of my rehnquist wrote while he was sitting on the bench hearing cases when he
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was out sick and i thought, that's like a kid in eighth grade geography passing a note to someone in front of the teacher, but this is the u.s. supreme court. tell me why you devoted an entire chapter to this factor somewhat unique is that when you contrast it to the screen individual. >> guest: i thought that i needed to explain why he did all these other things. i think his boredom, the title of the chapter, bored at the course. there is no doubt in my mind that he just wasn't intellectually challenged by much of the work the court did. he had been warned about this by bill douglas. bill douglas took him under his reign as the young man and these guys are so ideologically polar opposites and bill douglas believed as a young man coming on the court, douglas much, much
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younger when he was nominated by fdr. douglass believed that you've got to have a lot of other pursuits. i think it's rehnquist was bored, if he had not been nominated to be the chief, he just needed fast stimulus really because he was so smart. so i think if he had not been nominated to the chief, it's clear to me, going back and read an interview transcript with him, that he would've retired in 1989 because i mention not, i specifically said are you ready to retire? this is the end of 1984. he was nominated in 86. but at that point, he said i will be, when i reached the age of 65 in 1989 with more than 15 years of service on the court, i intend to leave and he could
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decide to take cases that he wanted, he would be making his full salary. he said i want to do some other things. i think he would've been been bored stiff teaching, by the way, but he was also trying to write novels. i was personally fascinated by this that i read the novels because they are newspapers. so he was trying to become the first justice, very secret and quiet, but the first justice ever to write a novel. it's never have been. you can check it it still never have been according to the archives. he went to douglas for help because douglas had written over 50 books and hundreds of articles he was just a writing machine. it was on nonfiction, but he has so many alimony payments to make, he'd been married four times the needed money and he was scrounging around however he
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could. so rehnquist saw this in douglas took him under his wing and introduced him to his agent, bobby lance, who was at that time probably the number one talent agent in hollywood at that time and also a great author's agent family is introduced into this holder for road of hollywood and the new york literary salons. this also came to make a very comfortable. but in the beginning he was very, very taken with it. >> host: certainly he had many pursuits up the bench. one final question having to do with corporate command address some points to make overall. and this is 1986 when he does decide to say because obviously he gets this amazing opportunity to be chief justice of the united states. warren burger decides to head up the constitutional anniversary commission and ronald reagan basically the same position that richard nixon was by default and
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ends up with william rehnquist. tell us about that. >> guest: warren burger pepin has been chief justice since 1969. now it's 19867079 years old and he is the chairman of the bison 10 -- constitution bicentennial. i'm certain that the first one to admit the point that you take a chief justice -- my goodness, booming baritone and he just looked the part. but he really loved the ceremony of the office and away rehnquist never did and let the administrative management and that he was very good at it, but he just had a thing for the constitutional bicentennial. so he asks for a meeting with rehnquist, with reagan. survey gives people think herder will ask for more money for the
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bison tenniel because he believes it's underfunded. so they debate whether to allow him to come in to meet with bacon or not, but reagan decided to meet with him as a courtesy. and so burger comes in and about 20 minutes into this discussion he's having with the president, he drops the bombshell that is going to resign. and so they've been for this and now it is upon them. so the political guys in the break in white house, which includes at meese among others, who is greg and sara goodfriend, but now the new attorney general. so already has a short list and not the top of the short list is rehnquist because meese believes that rehnquist will do exactly what nixon believed he would do as an associate justice in this
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right that rehnquist will come in with an agenda to reverse with the reagan white house sees as the access of the war and the burger courts. >> host: the reagan administration was much more vigorous in his pursuit of that angle than the nixon administration. so what if they are anyone who would've been in contention to be chief justice in 1986? >> guest: well, i think sandra day o'connor actually. you wrote a book about her. i think at some point a lot of people were discussing the moment she came onto the court as a potential chief justice. whether there was anyone inside, the reagan administration that considered that, i don't know. but i know there are many that.that could work.
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ultimately the ballot that o'connor, they saw somebody who had this goes on predict it will. they didn't want unpredictability and breaking news that rehnquist was going to be just completely predict the bull. the usual suspects for a tear at the time and conceivably could have been considered, but in this case it is really rehnquist to lose and so they didn't have anybody else on the list at that point and he came in and of course whatever thought he had formatted data by retiring is out the window because even though soon after he gets here come the rest of his family, one of his children that he just loads the administrative burden on him and doesn't know how he's going to handle that. >> host: he turned out to be good in it. you write in your introduction
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to you wanted to set the record straight. what are some of the most common misunderstandings about william rehnquist? >> guest: the anecdotal stories that he was alive because it's easy to make these a touchstone for his story always went back to his practical jokes. sometimes they think there is a little malice, often malice and the practical joking. but i as a journalist covering rehnquist, one of the things i dislike was it stops there. so cute anecdotes about the practical joking would be used to say here's a guy who's collegial to his predecessor and so forth. so one of the myths as he was
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jovial and personal and warm. i will say this, the evidence in his papers and that's what i'm using as my guide, but i think it's very, very valid. the evidence we see very mixed relations with his colleagues. i think everyone of them at some point felt to lash from william rehnquist. clarence thomas said he could get things done with the player. i as an interviewer could feel that. and by relatively few times i actually sat across from him, you could feel when you had offended our ask the wrong question. he would let you know. he was much more complex than some of those little stories and manic goes with it is to believe. >> host: finally, let's look forward because something we
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haven't mentioned is important about william rehnquist is the higher demand by the name of john roberts is their chief justice the united states william rehnquist hired him to be a law clerk. john roberts ended up serving in about a break-in at the station was appointed supreme court in 2005 to succeed william rehnquist after he died from pirate cancer. what is the legacy you believe that william rehnquist gave to john roberts and d.c. have been the the same vein? >> guest: well, i see roberts has rehnquist natural air. >> host: in the same partisan vein? >> guest: absolutely in the same partisan gain. roberts is -- robert say think is a more daft partisan in some respects, but he's also actually if you believe